CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, River North, Edgewater, Oak Park

Bucktown and Wicker Park: Meet People Chicago brings you the “Division Street Bar Crawl”. Hop on board as they hit the best bars Division Street has to offer! The crawl includes Fifty/50, FatPour, InnJoy, Easy Bar, and Bourbon on Division. Bar schedule and check in information will be emailed out the day of the crawl: August 4. The crawl starts at 4 pm and ends at 9 pm. Tickets range from $5 to $20, depending on when you purchase, so get yours now here!

Lincoln Park: It’s finally time! Taste of Lincoln Avenue, one of Chicago’s most iconic street fests, returns for it’s 35th year to the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Stretching over several city blocks on Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Wrightwood, this amazing festival includes over 20 music acts on two stages, a stand-alone “Kids Carnival”, food, libations, and arts & crafts. Adults can also sign up for ticketed afternoon wine/whiskey tastings in tented areas. With the purchase of a tasting pass you can sample up to 15 varieties of wine or 10 expertly curated whiskies. There is a suggested $10 donation. Find more information here.

Lakeview: It’s time again for Women in Comedy’s annual “Inside Jokes” conference! This hilarious and informative evening is for women seeking advice on building their career in comedy. This evening includes a speed networking session followed by a panel of professional comedians, producers, and writers from Chicago. This year’s theme is “Shameless Self Promotion”. The event is Sunday, July 29 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. Find more information about the featured panelists here. Admission is free!

River North: Tickets are available now for the “3 Floyds 90s Summer Lot Party” on Sunday, July 29 from 12 to 4 pm. Held in the back parking lot of Headquarters Beercade, there will be great beer, tasty food, a 90s Nick costume contest, 90s Nick trivia, and the opportunity to play a dozen physical challenges inspired by the classic 90s show Double Dare! General admission includes five rare 3 Floyds Beers of your choice, 90s Nick inspired food stations and buffets, entry to the $200 costume contest, and access to play in the Double Dare challenges. The 90s inspired Nick menu includes Krabby Patties, Goodburgers, Wild Thornberry Salad, and more. There will be themed cocktails inspired by 90s favorites like Yoo Hoo, Capri Sun, Kool Aid Jammers, and more. Find more information and get your tickets here!

Edgewater: Mark your calendars for EdgeFest! The festival will be on Saturday, August 4 from 11 to 10 pm and Sunday, August 5 from 12 to 9 pm on Broadway between Thorndale and Ardmore. EdgeFest is both a community party and a fundraiser for the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce. Gate donations and beer sales go toward paying for the production costs of the festival and any other profit is invested back into this non-profit organization. This festival features flavorful cuisine, award-winning entertainment, and family fun. There will also be a Pet Parade on Saturday beginning at 11 am. Find more information here.

Oak Park: It’s time again for the 12th Annual Wright Ride! Sponsored by Visit Oak Park, this is the summer’s finest celebration of recreation and architecture! Grab your bike and gear up for a leisurely ride through the charming and architecturally rich neighborhoods in the Oak Park area.  This event caters to riders of all skill levels with 10, 20, 30, 50, and 72 mile routes that showcase some of the area’s finest architectural landmarks- including more than a dozen designed by Wright himself. There are multiple rest stops every 12-15 miles that offer fruit, snacks, Gatorade, and iced tea. Registration fees are $30 for adults on the 30, 50, or 72 mile route; $20 for adults on the 10 mile route; and $5 for children under 12 on all routes. The ride is on August 19 and you can register here.


What Do HOA Fees Cover?

Condos and homes that are located in an HOA community come with a certain set of perks that you won’t find in your traditional home. They offer private amenities solely for community residents, provide maintenance for all common areas, and offer a sense of security behind a gated entrance.

But as convenient as these extras may be, they don’t come for free. Living in an HOA community means you’ll be paying a monthly fee in addition to your mortgage and utilities.

Also referred to as “maintenance fees,” HOA dues are established by the HOA’s elected Board of Directors and are determined by the size of each property, or the owner’s share based on anticipated annual expenses. These fees do not go into the pocket of the board but are rather put towards the good of the community.

The question is, what exactly do these HOA fees cover? Every homeowner’s association has its own set of rules, so it’s essential that you carefully review the community’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) to find out the details about these fees.

Here some common things that HOA fees pay for.

Property Management

Someone has to manage the community, and HOA’s typically employ a property management company to do this. These companies will be responsible for maintaining the property and employing the appropriate personnel to tend to the neighborhood as required.

They also collect HOA fees, deal with owner issues, and make sure that the community – and all properties within it – are properly cared for in order to ensure property values are maintained. To pay for these services, all owners cover this cost through a portion of their HOA fees.


One of the great things about living in an HOA is that your maintenance chores are kept to a minimum. Part of the HOA dues you pay every month will go towards the maintenance of the community, particularly the common areas and amenities. While every HOA is different, the associated fees can cover any one of the following:

  • Ongoing maintenance of common areas and amenities (ie. pool, fitness room, tennis courts, etc)
  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • HVAC systems
  • Garbage removal
  • Security
  • Pest control
  • Cable TV
  • Internet

To find out exactly what’s covered in the HOA community you’re considering buying into, be sure to contact the association.


If the community you live in employs cleaning staff, lawn maintenance crews, security, or concierge personnel, part of the HOA fees will be used to pay their salaries.


While you’ll be responsible for taking out your own insurance policy to cover your belongings, you don’t have to worry about having to pay for insurance to cover the exterior of the building. The homeowners’ association has their own master insurance policy that covers the community’s building structures, amenities, exteriors, and overall community property against any damage or theft. Part of your fees will be used to pay for this master insurance policy.

Utilities For Common Areas

All the electricity, gas, water, and HVAC systems in the common areas need to be paid for, and all owners each chip in a little to cover such costs through their HOA dues.

Reserve Fund

Every HOA must have a reserve fund, which is used to cover the cost of large expenses every once in a while that will inevitably be required. Things such as roof replacement or repaving community streets don’t need to take place on a regular basis, but they will need attention at some point in the future as a result of natural wear and tear.

Part of the HOA dues is put towards keeping the reserve fund at a certain level in order for it to be able to adequately cover such major expenses when they’re required. If the reserve fund is not big enough for when these expenses need to be made, all owners within the association will be slapped with an additional fee to be put towards a special assessment.


In case there are any expenses that are not accounted for or anticipated, a contingency fund will be set up in order to cover such expenses, and some of the funds from HOA fees are used for this purpose.

The Bottom Line

It might not be fun to have to pay for another expense on top of all the others you’re responsible for as a homeowner, but HOA fees certainly cover a number of costs that make life in an HOA community comfortable and enjoyable. Every HOA will require its own fee amount, which should accurately reflect the community amenities, the location, and the types of units within the HOA. Speak with your real estate agent about HOA fees and how much you can expect to pay on average in the area you’re looking to buy in.

Restaurant Review – Clark St. Dog

If you live in the city, you’ve got to have a go-to for late night food. Well this week, I found mine. Clark St. Dog is a hidden gem, but apparently only to me; it’s been around since 1977! Since then, the Velliotis family has been serving up delicious Chicago-style food and drink. They’re known for the Clark St. Dog (a play on a Chicago dog) their Philly Steak, and a fan-favorite: Cheese Fries. They boast a variety of menu items that are fresh, never frozen, and cooked to order. We went for lunch on a Wednesday and while there were lots of people getting orders to go, there weren’t a lot of dine-in customers, so we had no problem getting a table. The menu is sizable and full of mouthwatering delights. After much debate, I finally decided on the Italian Sausage: a hunk of French bread topped with a giant Italian sausage, your choice of hot or sweet peppers, and cheese for an extra $0.50 (American, Swiss, mozzarella, or cheddar). I decided on hot peppers and mozzarella cheese. They also ask if you want your sandwich dipped in au jus, which of course I said I did. This was fantastic. The sausage was spicy, the cheese was perfectly gooey and melty, and the dipped bread was divine. The portion is also huge- more than enough for one person! My friend decided on the Original Style Gyros sandwich: grilled pita stuffed with gyros, homemade tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and onions. This was super tasty as well! The homemade tzatziki was rich and creamy, perfectly complimenting the greasy (in a good way) gyros meat. I loved that the pita was grilled, too! It makes such a big difference in the flavor. I will certainly be back- I have my eye on the Pizza Puff stuffed with cheese and sausage, as well as the Chili Cheese Fries.

Clark St. Dog is located at 3040 N Clark St. Their hours are 10 am to 3 am Sundays through Thursdays and 10 am to 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays. They also feature a full bar, with only local beers on tap (including Goose Island for $3.50 every day of the week).  Check out their website for both online ordering and catering.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Lawn and Garden Do’s and Don’ts for Hot Weather

Do’s and Don’ts for Lawn and Garden During Hot Spells

You can get through summer hot spells with a few tricks and tips! Here are the do’s:

  1. Do pay special attention to your container plants. They will need daily watering! It’s also ok to fertilize these.
  2. Water, but do not overwater. Always water an inch at a time, both on the lawn and in the garden. You need to increase the frequency of your waterings, but not the amount of water.
  3. Continue to mow, but raise the level. You will be mowing more often this way, but keeping the grass longer will help it stay looking good and healthy.
  4. Keep weeding. It seems that no what matter the temperature, these still thrive. Keeping them to a minimum will keep them from further stressing already stressed plants.
  5. Watch out for garden pests, like spider mites. Blast them off with a good spray from the hose. Again, these can really overtake already stressed plants.

Here are a few things to stay away from!

  1. Stop fertilizing both the garden and lawn. In high heat, it can burn plants. Many plants will get through the heat by slowing their own growth. As we said before, it’s ok to fertilize container plants.
  2. Don’t do any planting or transplanting. Planting and transplanting are stressful to plants to begin with; adding heat to the equation is simply unnecessary and could result in plants that never reach their full potential.
  3. Avoid pruning trees and shrubs. Pruned plants and trees will encourage new growth which is likely to wither in high heat conditions.

Do any lawn and garden chores early in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. This is better for both garden and gardener. Besides more frequent mowing, watering, and weeding, let things be. Many plants fight stress by going dormant and will come right back with rain and cooler temperatures. If you have certain perennials that seem especially stressed, it might be a good idea to move these to a more shady spot in the fall.


Buying a House With Bad Credit? Here’s What You Need to Know

Credit scores are crucial little numbers that play a key role in your financial health. With a good credit score, you’ve got many more doors open to you in the financial world, including having an easier time getting approved for home loans with favorable interest rates and terms. But a bad credit score can have the opposite effect.

Unfortunately, about one-third of scorable Americans have bad credit, which can be the result of any number of things. The thing is, conventional mortgage lenders prefer to work with borrowers who have good credit, as they will be less likely to default on their mortgages and leave lenders scrambling to foreclose the property and sell to recoup their investment.

While lenders look at several factors before approving an applicant for a home loan, credit scores play an important role and can be the one thing that can result in a rejected mortgage.

If you’ve got bad credit and are trying to get a mortgage to purchase a home, you might be out of luck with conventional lenders. However, you might be able to get approved for a home loan if you seek out alternatives to traditional mortgage products.

Know Your Score

Before you even start applying for a mortgage, be sure to find out exactly where your credit score stands. You can do this by pulling your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Once you know what your credit score is, you’ll know where you stand, since your credit score will affect whether or not you can get approved for a home loan as well as what interest rate you’ll be offered.

Conventional loans typically require a credit score of at least 620. Any lower than this will make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for you to get approved for a traditional home loan.

Consider Working With Bad Credit Lenders

There are many alternative lenders who work with clients with bad credit scores. Such lenders place more weight on other factors when they considering home loan approval aside from credit scores, including the following:

  • Income
  • Type of employment
  • Savings
  • Down payment amount

If all of the above factors are strong, they may be enough to compensate for your bad credit score and make it easier for alternative lenders to agree to provide you with a mortgage. Your credit might not necessarily be strong, but if your income and savings can make up for it, lenders may be more willing to work with you.

More specifically, a hefty down payment can be the factor that seals the deal for lenders. Not only does a higher down payment amount reduce the amount of money you would have to borrow and lower your loan-to-value ratio (LTV), it also shows lenders that you have the financial strength to afford a mortgage and the payments that come with it. Besides, lenders may even require that down payments are at least 10% to 20% of the purchase price of a home in order to reduce their overall risk.

It should be noted that mortgages from alternative lenders typically come attached with higher interest rates than you would be offered by your bank or other traditional financial institution, especially if your credit score is low. Generally speaking, the lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate because of the inherent risk that lenders are assuming by extending credit to low-credit borrowers.

Look at Home Loans Designed For Borrowers With Bad Credit

If your credit score is less than 620, there are still ways to get approved for a mortgage thanks to loan options designed with bad credit borrowers in mind. A very popular mortgage product among borrowers with bad credit are FHA loans, which can be qualified for with a score as low as 580.

Not only may you be eligible for an FHA loan with a low score, but the down payment requirements are lower than conventional mortgages as well. While a 5% minimum down payment is required for traditional mortgages, FHA loans require as little as 3.5%.

Thanks to the low credit score and the low down payment requirements of FHA loans, these mortgage products tend to be quite popular among first-time homebuyers who may be just starting to build credit and saving for a down payment. These programs also provide the benefit of allowing the entire down payment amount to be gifted from a family member or friend.

The Bottom Line

Just because you have bad credit doesn’t mean you have to kiss your dreams of homeownership goodbye. While the process may certainly be more challenging, getting mortgage approval doesn’t have to be impossible. That said, it’s in your best interests to take steps to improve your credit score.

If time is on your side, take measures to give your score a boost right now so that you’re in a better position to get approved for a mortgage at more favorable rates in the near future. If not, there are still avenues you can take to get a mortgage, despite your bad credit.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Summer Scorcher Hosts Popular Food Festivals!

Although another summer scorcher is on the way, this weekend is packed with Chicago’s most popular street food festivals of the season! It’s sure to be an unforgettable good time in Chi Town!

Showcasing the diversity of Chicago’s dining community, the Taste of Chicago offers some of the city’s best food at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop on Friday (11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.) and Saturday & Sunday (10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.).  Besides the delicious array of food, the Taste is complimented by music (Petrillo Music Shell & Goose Island Stage) and exciting activities for the entire family like March of the Puppets, Kids Eat Chicago, Eli’s Cheesecake Birthday Celebration, and much more!  Don’t miss out on the world’s largest food festival!!

Returning for its 6th year, the Windy City Smokeout is at the Chicago Tribune Festival Lot (560 W. Grand Ave.) in the River North neighborhood. This festival offers some of the best BBQ talent with 20 of the world’s best pit masters, plus craft breweries from around the country.  This event also brings an impressive lineup of country music stars and up-and-coming talent to the stage.  Or, elevate your Smokeout experience at one of these exciting events happening throughout the weekend:  The Biggest Happy Hour of Summer, Casamigos Mixology Class, Honky Tonk BBQ Brunch, and more!  So, get ready for some beer, BBQ, and country tunes!!

The savory burger and a rockin’ music lineup on two stages are back at the 12th annual Roscoe Village Burger Fest Saturday and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.) at Belmont and Damen Avenues (2000 W. Belmont Ave.) in Roscoe Village.  Also included on the weekend’s menu are arts & crafts and an action packed Kids’ Zone for the entire family!  It’s time to fire up those grills for the tastiest Patty Party around!!

It’s time again for Lincoln Square’s 7th annual Square Roots Festival at Lincoln and Montrose Avenues (4400 N. Lincoln Ave.).  Enjoy this year’s lineup of regional craft beer and local gourmet food options, music & entertainment on four stages, and family friendly events & activities all weekend long!  It’s a multidimensional experience for all!!

Your Movies in the Parks for this weekend are listed below.  Again, all movies begin at dusk (8:30 p.m.).  Get ready for a fun summer in the parks!

Friday, July 13th:
“Marshall” – Boler (Leo Roscoe) Park (3601 W. Arthington St.) – North Lawndale
“War of the Planet of the Apes” – Palmer Park (201 E. 111th St.) – Roseland
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” – Taylor Park (39 W. 47th St.) – Grand Boulevard

Saturday, July 14th:
“Wonder Woman”—Sherwood Park (5701 S. Shields Ave.) – Englewood
“Back to the Future” – Horner Park (2741 W. Montrose Ave.) – Irving Park
“Coco” – Oz Park (2021 N. Burling St.) – Lincoln Park

Sunday, July 15th:
“Footloose” – Piotrowski Park (4247 W. 31st St.) – South Lawndale
“Grease” – Jonquil Playlot Park (1001 W. Wrightwood Ave.) – Lincoln Park
“The Emoji Movie” – Emmerson Park (1820 W. Granville Ave.) – West Ridge

Bon Appétit!  Work Those Taste Buds!!

Common Reasons Why Homeowners Insurance Claims Are Rejected

You pay good money to have your home covered with a homeowners’ insurance policy, so when damage is done to it, you expect your claim to go through and a check to mailed to you soon after. Unfortunately, there are many circumstances under which claims may be denied.

In order to avoid this unpleasant surprise if you ever need to file a claim sometime in the future, consider some of the following common reasons why homeowners’ insurance claims get turned down.

Your Premium Payments Were Missed

If you expect to be covered after a loss, you better make sure that you’ve been up-to-date with your premium payments. If you have not been keeping up with your premium payments, you can be sure that your insurance provider will not keep up their end of the bargain in response.

That said, there is something called a “grace period” after a late premium payment. During this time, your policy will still remain in effect, even if you’ve missed the deadline by a certain amount of time. If, for instance, you’re given a 10-day grace period, your policy will no longer be in effect and any claim you submit will be rejected after this time frame has come and gone.

Incorrect Policy Number Provided

All aspects of a claim must be entirely accurate in order for coverage to take effect. If your claim is processed with an incorrect policy number, that could put a snag in the claim approval process. In this case, it’s important to consult with your insurance agent in order to rectify the situation. Make sure that all information on the claim is accurate – including the policy number – or you could find yourself with a denied claim.

Filing Outside the Required Time Frame

You wouldn’t be able to successfully file a claim if the incident in question occurred far too long ago. Most insurance companies require that claims are filed shortly after the damage was caused to your home, or else you could fall outside of that window of opportunity.

Lack of Sufficient Proof of Damage

No insurance company is going to hand out a large sum of money to anyone who simply claims to have suffered damage to their property. Sufficient proof will be required in order for your insurer to assess the damage and verify whether or not it qualifies for coverage. Most of the time, detailed photos of the damage will be required, as will a visit from an adjuster to check out the damage in person. If you don’t have enough evidence to document the damage, your claim may not be approved.

The Cause of Your Property Damage is Excluded From Your Policy

Not all damage to your home will necessarily be included for coverage under your policy. Any inclusions or exclusions will depend on the exact type of policy that you’ve got as well as any additional riders that you may have added for more coverage. For instance, any damage done to your crawlspace as a result of flooding will likely not be covered unless you specifically take out flood insurance. The majority of typical insurance policies usually don’t cover damage done as a result of a flood.

In addition, any normal wear and tear and breakdown of materials over time will also not be covered.

Previous Claims With Another Insurer

If you’ve recently switched insurance companies and have a history of past claims with your previous insurer, that could put your current claim with your present insurance provider in jeopardy. If you fail to let your new insurance company know about any previous claims, they can reject your claim based on the fact that you neglected to disclose such important information. As a general rule of thumb, always keep your insurance company up to speed about your claims history, since it can influence how future claims will be handled.

Your Property Was Unoccupied at the Time of Damage

Depending on your specific policy, your claim can be denied if the damage occurred while your home was unoccupied for a certain length of time (usually anything over 30 to 60 days). That’s because the risk of damage to unoccupied properties is much higher since there is nobody home to intervene.

Damage Was Caused By Your Negligence

Damage done to your home as a result of a natural disaster or vandalism is one thing, but damage done because of your negligence or lack of maintenance is quite another. It should come as no surprise that a claim will most certainly be denied if any damage your home is the direct result of your inability or unwillingness to properly care for your property.

You Fibbed on Your Claim

It’s crucial to always be truthful about all information provided on your claim form. If it comes to light that you willingly and knowingly provided incorrect information, your claim may be denied. You can be sure that your insurer will verify all the information that you provided and that you are not embellishing the information in an effort to collect more than what you rightfully deserve.

The Bottom Line

It would be terribly bothersome to file a claim with your homeowners’ insurance company, only to find out that you’ve been rejected. The truth is, there are plenty of reasons why your insurer may deny your claim. Make sure to get familiar with your policy and the circumstances that could make your claim stand on shaky ground, and be sure to cover all of your angles appropriately to increase the chances of a successful claim.

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Chicago Loop, Logan Square, Evanston

Lakeview: You’ve gotta stop by the Music Box Theatre during the Southport Arts Festival! This Saturday, July 14 and Sunday July 15 there will be complimentary beer, wine, and spirits tastings, a Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar, frozen cocktails, food trucks, live music, and much more! Featured vendors include Pipeworks Brewing, Cheesie’s, Bell’s Brewery, Goose Island Brewery, and more. Find the full lineup here.

Bucktown and Wicker Park: Every Wednesday during the summer, join The Hideout (1354 W Wabansia) for family friendly Veggie Bingo! From 5:30 to 8 pm, you can compete for farm-focused prizes including farm fresh vegetables and a Grand Prize of a giant bag of organic produce from Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks! All proceeds benefit Chicago Community Gardens. Find more information on their Facebook page.

Lincoln Park: The Green City Market’s Chef BBQ is one of Chicago’s most anticipated food events for the summer! Over 100 of Chicago’s top restaurants and beverage purveyors provide tasting dishes and craft beverages featuring local, sustainable produce from Green City Market farmers. Both vegetarian and meat dishes will be featured. The event is on Thursday, July 19 from 5:30 to 8 pm at the South End of Lincoln Park (approximately 1817 N Clark). Vendors include Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, Nico Osteria, The Publican, Longman & Eagle, Goose Island Brewhouse, Moody Tongue Brewing Company, and much more. General admission tickets are still available for $125 here.

Chicago Loop: It’s that time of year again! The Chicago Jazz Festival returns for its 40th year for an extended run- August 24 to September 2. This is a Labor Day tradition for many Chicagoans as it celebrates all forms of jazz through free, quality live music performances. Since 1979, the festival’s mission is to showcase Chicago’s vast jazz talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages. Find the full lineup of artists here.

Logan Square: Mark your calendars now for Kultura Festival! This is the Midwest’s premier Filipino American food and arts festival, held on Sunday, August 19 from 11 am to 6 pm. Kultura Festival marks its 4th year and is at Emporium Logan Square (2363 N Milwaukee Ave). The festival is carefully curated to appeal to both those who personally identify with Filipino culture as well as uninitiated, curious attendees. General admission tickets are $15, senior tickets are $10, student tickets are $5, tickets for children 6-11 years old are $5, and children under 6 are admitted free. Buy your tickets in advance here.

Evanston: On Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22, Evanston’s lakefront will be transformed into a Global Village for the World Arts & Music Festival! The festival is from 12 pm to 7 pm each day. This free two-day celebration of global diversity features art from a variety of countries, family activities and crafts, international cuisine, live music, and dance performances. There will be continuous performances throughout the weekend at two venues- the Arrington Lakefront Lagoon in Dawes Park and Centennial Park. This festival is sponsored by the City of Evanston Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department and the Illinois Arts Council. Find the performance schedule and list of food and art vendors here.


Restaurant Review – 5411 Empanadas

This week to me to a place I’ve been dying to try: 5411 Empanadas. 5411 is named after the international dialing code for Buenos Aires, Argentina. The shop started as a food truck and became so popular that they’ve expanded to five brick and mortar locations in Chicago. They also have an outpost in Houston, Texas. The menu is simple: empanadas, desserts, and beverages; my kind of place. The server recommended that we order at least two empanadas per person, more if we were really hungry. Everything sounded incredible, it was so hard to choose only two! I finally narrowed it down to the Malbec Beef and the Mushroom, Thyme &  Blue Cheese. The Malbec Beef was very tasty, the meat was flavorful and rich, complimented by potatoes, carrots, and onions. It reminded me of a pot roast, but wrapped in pastry dough. The Mushroom, Thyme & Blue Cheese was hands down my favorite. The flavors were fantastic. My dad ordered the Bacon, Dates, & Goat Cheese and the Chorizo & Patatas Bravas. The Bacon and Date empanada is unbeatable. It’s a perfect balance of sweet, smoky, and salty- I would order this again in a heartbeat. The Chorizo was very good as well, the meat is wonderfully spiced and I’m a sucker for patatas bravas. My mom ordered the Caramelized Onion & Parmesan and the Spinach & Cheese. The Caramelized Onion was wonderful. I loved the sweetness of the onions mixed with the salty parmesan cheese. The Spinach & Cheese was very tasty, but compared to the other ones we had, nothing to write home about. I can’t wait to come back and try the rest of the flavors!

The Southport location is at 3715 N Southport Ave. The hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 11 am to 10 pm, Fridays from 11 am to 11 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 11 pm, and Sundays from 9 am to 10 pm. Find other location information, online ordering, and catering information here.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Flowering Perennials for your Landscape

Planting annuals or purchasing expensive hanging baskets are a good way to add color to your homes’ landscape. They do take a bit of care (especially the baskets) as they need daily watering during hot spells. How about flowering perennials to add some color while being relatively carefree? Following are some easy perennials to grow in almost any climate.

Rhododendrons are lovely plants that stay relatively compact, with medium to dark large blade-like leaves and flower clusters that bloom throughout the season. You can plant them right in the ground or in a large pot on the patio or deck. They reach about 36 inches in height and about the same around.

Salvia Leucantha produces masses of purple flower spikes on gray green shrubs that flower throughout the summer and stop with the first frost. These plants will grow 3-4 feet high and 4-6 feet wide. These are nice for a wide border or to frame a walkway. Gloriosa Daisy is another perennial flowering plant that’s ideal for a border. They produce golden petals that radiate from a chocolate center with 2-4-inch flowers. Plants reach 3-4 feet tall and 18 inches wide.

Clematis are easy growers that do well in almost any garden soil. They can be trained to climb in and around just about anything. They can go up a trellis or around the trunk of a tree. Try and find a variety that blooms throughout the year, as many varieties only bloom in spring.

Butterfly Bush is like a summer flowering lilac. They bloom from summer into autumn, especially if you pinch off the old flowers as they are spent. They love full sun and well drained soil. You need a large space for these bushes as they can reach 10 feet or taller.

Hydrangeas come in many varieties and colors. Some color depend on the ph of your soil. Untrained they can be huge, as much as 10 feet tall and wide. Some can be trained to fit a large pot. Hydrangea Paniculata is easy to grow. It’s rugged and produces white flowers that fade to pink and green.

Rose of Sharon provides lots of color during summers’ hottest months. They produce tropical looking blooms in lavender-blue, pink, and white. They reach 10 feet tall and wide. Choose a sterile variety that won’t produce a myriad of weedy seedlings.

Shrub roses are not like the high maintenance varieties. They bloom all summer up to 6 feet tall and wide and are disease resistant, easy growing plants. They come in many colors. Do keep away from high traffic areas as they produce thorns like regular rose varieties.